Interview by Erwin van DijkAn in-depth chat with Chiara, the soprano singer of the well-promising Italian Gothic Metal band Lust for Oblivion about their debut demo “Black Moon” and their musical future. Did you always want to become a singer?
I’ve always loved music and my first experience with it was at the age of nine, when I started playing the piano, but I’ve always loved singing, too, since when I was a child, so, some years ago, I started taking opera singing lessons.And to what kind of music do you listen yourself?
I listen to classical music, especially opera and piano compositions and also to metal music.And who are your favorite bands and musicians?
Bands like Dark Tranquillity, Moonspell, Within Temptation, Lacuna Coil, Tristania are my favorite, but I’ve surely forgotten some…obviously I adore Tarja Turunen!!!! My favorite classical musicians are W.A.Mozart, F.Chopin and K.Orff.
Interview by Andy Axworthy
Hailing from Bratislava, Galadriel have been delivering their own brand of doom, death and heavy metal since “Empire of Emptiness” was released in 1997. A band that writes from the heart their style has matured over the years, though it has never lost its edge. With their latest release - “The 7th Queen Enthroned” – about to hit the stores we took some time out with singer Sona Witch Kozakova to talk about life, reality and a damn good metal album.
Hi Sona. A warm welcome from Femme Metal. How are you today?
Hi Femme Metal, I heartily greet the readers of Femme Metal Webzine. Thank you for asking, I’m enjoying the first cold days of autumn.
You joined Galadriel in ’96. How did you get drawn to music, to metal in particular, and how did you end up joining Galadriel?
When I was twelve, my brother brought home his first metal vinyls and I was so fascinated by the metal music. And it keeps me during all my life. We’ve been always dreaming about forming a metal band. But everything started many years later when I met Dodo and Voloda at some festival in Czech Republic and we were talking about the music and life. So I have told them about my dreams to be a singer. These guys were preparing the recording of the first Galadriel demo and one month later they came to my house and asked me to record vocals on their demo because their vocalist left the band.
It’s been quite a journey from “Empire of Emptiness” to latest release, “The 7th Queen Enthroned”. For you, what would you say has remained constant and also, what has changed the most over that time?
There are many changes of course. It’s hard to compare middle 90s age and nowadays. When we were at the beginning it was all about the young enthusiasm, easygoing life, dreams and plans. Later we found out it will be not that easy to reach our goals and nothing is for free. We gave all our lives to the band. Many of the plans we have did not realize by now. Now all of us have many problems with jobs, bills or credits. But we are trying to approach very seriously to the band and trying to grow every day. I’m challenging myself when I’m not satisfied with my performance almost everytime. I think we’re still trying to be kind to our fans and supporters. Every one is so important to us.
While a metal heart beats at its centre, Galadriel is a band that is not afraid to experiment with its sound. Is that something that evolves during songwriting and rehearsal or do you go into the studio with a particular idea in mind?
There are some experiments that were created in the studio of course but most of these elements and ideas we were preparing in the rehearsal or at home. Many times when we are working on new songs, at the first steps, we are working at home and sending ideas and demo mp3s through Internet so everybody can think about that in the quiet of home. That’s for example my best way to be creative. I need to think about songs and melodies first and after I’m ready to perform my ideas I record them. After we have few ideas to work with we can meet in the rehearsal and work together.
In terms of songwriting, where do you get your imagery and inspirations from, both personally and within the band?
There are some things and themes around us that hurt us and we are thinking about them and talking about our opinions. Everyone of us has some dark and light places in his soul. There are some feelings growing in those places. The feelings give us the ideas for melodies or lyrics. Sometimes I wake up in the morning, looking thourgh the window, and it just show up in my mind. I wake up with some strong feelings and they need to go out. So I take my phone and record some melodies in working quality.
Talking of the band, could you introduce us to and tell us a bit more about your fellow band members?
Actually we are in this line-up: Dodo Datel (vox, bass), Tomax Gabris (guit), me (vox) and live co-performers Jano Valer Tornad (drums), Peter Lipovsky (guit) and Andrej Kutis (keys).
The “7th Queen Enthroned” is your latest release and the next step forward in the band‘s evolution. How do you feel about the album, and what has been the reaction from the press and fans alike?
I feel good with new album. We tried to do our best in conditions and possibilities we had. I think we did another step forward. The final release of the album is delayed and I have not the CD in my hands yet. We have published two songs on the Internet and the reactions are really positive what is encouraging but I think our fans will let us know their emotions and feelings after the CD will be definitely out for some time.
Can you tell us more about the idea behind the album title? Where did it come from? Is it a theme in its own right or does it form part of a story arc with “World Under World” and “Renascence of Ancient Spirit”?
We feel there are many bad things and situations in the world and everyday we’re waiting for another bomb or terroristic attack. Greed and recklessness of people in combination with aggressiveness and arrogance move our world more and more to extensive conflicts. Also the drop of mineral resources and environmental blindness, fails and mistakes of mankind fill us up with very bad feelings. It looks there is too many people on this planet… and that’s dangerous. Our “7th Queen” is some status of mankind after collapse of life on Earth. However she (the Queen) tries to do something, to save the life, everything she touches is turned to death and dust. She’s a mirror of mankind. Hopeless she fights for the change (like few parts of people) but all her endeavors are smashed by aggressive and destructive thoughts and feelings. So she was enthroned by mankind. People have chosen this way of extinction… There are some parallels with some themes we used on our previous albums but every one of our albums stands alone for itself.
How about the album artwork? What is the story behind the design?
Yes, we tried to put our thoughts from lyrics and songs also to the cover. So we wanted to show some desolated hopeless woman in pain in a dead world. I’ve been a part of the team which prepared the latex fashion show of my friend Krisztina Csizmadia few years ago in Austria. I was working as a make-up designer and the model Lizzy Meow was one of most important part of the show that night. When Dodo told me about his idea of the cover we were talking about some possibilities and then we decided to ask Lizzy for the cooperation, we knew she is open for some kind of destructive or cyberpunk ideas, haha. Yes, we are really happy she said yes to our offer. The photo-shooting was taken in Vienna by the photographer Marius Sachtikus and Lizzy‘s make-up was done by Nadja Hluchowski. This photoshooting was really professional and we were selecting from more than 200 pictures. All post-production works were done by Dodo himself.
“The 7th Queen Enthroned” is a consistently strong album. Rockers like “Still Not Dead Enough” and “The Last Time” sit comfortably alongside hard hitting yet atmospheric tracks like “Crucifixion Deluxe” and “Eosphorus”. Which song is your own current favourite from this release and why do you like it so much?
Thank you! I really love all songs on the record. It’s hard to choose one or two. Maybe I will be able to choose after some shows we will play and I will know how can I sing each of the songs on stage. I’m really looking for singing “Crucifixion DeLuxe” because in that song I sing with different style. We will not play “Eosphorus” live because this song is dedicated to the dead daughter of my close friend. And there are so many actual sad emotions in my heart that I cannot sing it now correctly. Maybe later…
How about your personal musical influences? Which bands and/or singers do you enjoy listening to and which of them inspired you the most when you were starting out as a vocalist?
When the idea to be a singer first came to my mind I decided to be singer with growling vocals, haha. I was really listening to bands like Aphyx, Obituary or Morbid Angel in the beginning of 90s. But as you know I’m using clear vocals because Dodo is singing the growling parts, haha. As there were not so many female vocalist in harder or darker metal genres in my beginnings it’s really hard to say about some idols. I always loved Kari Rueslatten, she was singing in doom metal band The 3rd And The Mortal, and I also love her solo works despite of fact she is far from metal music nowadays. Another my favourite singer is Anneke van Giersbergen, I love Lisa Gerrard… later Sharon den Adel, Sarah Jezebel Deva or Mariangela Demurtas. There are many talented and brilliant female vocalists I love to listen to and I still love clear and growling male vocals too
You recently played the Gothoom Festival. How was the show and what was the highlight of your day? Did you manage to see any of the other bands that were playing?
Yes, it was the festival promoted and organized by our label Gothoom Productions. Our show was quite good despite of fact our line up was completed with new guys and they have only few days to learn how to play the songs. But guys were cool and we really enjoyed it. Maybe it was a not so much comfortable situation for us as we were playing right after the headliner of the day, Septicflesh, and many people were still oriented their way but our fans were cool. It’s always difficult to look at the other bands, because we need to prepare for our show. But we have seen some parts of shows of Doomas, Septicflesh and Skyforger…
What other interests do you have outside of the band? How do you relax when you’ve got some time to yourself?
Oh, I have really many many interests, haha. Sometimes when I wake up in the morning I don’t know what to do first. I want to do so many things when I have some free time. My biggest pleasure are animals and we have many animals, so in my free time I take the care of them. I also spend my free time making art… I create jewelery, some characters or I paint… that’s my biggest relax. But sometimes I only lay on the sofa with some book.
As a band, Galadriel have grown up with the Internet. How do the events of the latest release compare with the experience of getting “Empire of Emptiness” marketed and distributed back in the day? What do you personally think has been gained – or lost – in this media change?
Well, yes. On one hand Internet has changed everything. When we were promoting our first album in 1997 it was everything more complicated. We used the classic mail way to spread our music to magazines. We used the classic mail way to answer to letters of fans and answer the interviews. Now we can upload some song to YouTube or to one of many players on the web or social web and send link directly to our fans. Everything is faster and easier. So it’s definitely more comfortable and more effective than in the past. On the other hand was so cool when we get first letters from fans written by their hands and they traveled to our city to buy the CD directly from us. So I think it was more ‘heart to heart’ way of communication.
With the Web now putting the world at your fingertips, which parts of the world outside of Slovakia are currently showing the greatest interest in your music and which countries and/or festivals would you like to play and why?
Outside of Slovakia and Czechia… I think we have many fans in the countries of South America. This is the part of the world where people really love this kind of music and are really thankful for every band that comes there to tour. So I would love to travel there to play some shows but it’s not easy for a band like Galadriel. And festivals… hmm… yes, Hellfest would be cool or Metal Female Voices Festival is growing more and more and that would be another great adventure to play there. And Wacken of course… all the world is meeting up on Wacken. And there is another great new kind of festivals on the boats. That would be cool too, haha.
What is next for you and Galadriel? Are you taking the album on the road and further afield?
So, now we are really looking forward to the release party show of our new album here in Bratislava, Slovakia. We would like to play many shows in 2013 all around Europe, we have some ideas and offers and I hope most of them will come true. And I hope our fans will not wait for next album another five years!
Thanks for sharing this time with us. To wind up, is there anything else you would like to add for our readers?
My pleasure. Thank you for interesting questions. I’m sending heartily greetings to all readers of Femme Metal Webzine and I hope we will see you under stage next year Keep an eye open on our website or Facebook profile to stay tuned about everything. Check out our new album “The 7th Queen Enthroned” too Save the Nature, save animals and all what’s alive… Thanks!
Interview by Ed MacLaren
In the European metal scene, Liv Kristine is an icon. From her years with the seminal gothic metal band Theatre of Tragedy to her current success with Leaves’ Eyes, she is the archetype to which all female metal singers are compared and measured against. With their fourth full-length album, “Meredead”, Leaves’ Eyes have created their magnum opus – a brilliant fusion of music, melody, rhythm and language that transcends categorization and redefines the definition of metal. After finishing a spring tour with Midnattsol and Tarja, Liv took some time to talk with Femme Metal about her creative process and the creation of “Meredead”.Since our last interview for your solo album, “Skintight”, you’ve returned once again with your fourth Leaves’ Eyes album – the brilliant “Meredead”. Could you actually get any busier without having to clone yourself? (Laughs) True, we’ve been very busy the last six years! However, I was born with a hyperactive artistic mind, so being creative – composing, writing lyrics, recording and performing – is something I really enjoy doing. It’s all a part of me and experience has made me become the person and artist I am. Concerning our latest production, we needed about one and a half years for the complete production of “Meredead”, which is only possible because we do have our own studio – Mastersound Studio. The composing process went overwhelmingly fast. It was one great pleasure writing and recording the album together with Thorsten and Alex. We actually just arrived back from tour, and I’m now looking forward to further shows and tours. In April we toured with my sister Carmen‘s band Midnattsol, and then in May we joined Tarja. Wow! Both tours were full of magic moments when the ladies got together! Busy, for sure, but very happy!
“Meredead” sounds fantastic – a full, rich musical experience from beginning to end. It has everything fans love about the band but expands the Leaves’ Eyes sound in some interesting ways. With each album your music becomes more progressively intricate and layered – complex and elaborate. Was “Meredead” a deliberate direction or an organic outgrowth of the writing and recording process?
I’d say it was an organic outgrowth of the process. We just started composing with an open mind. “Meredead” is our fourth album, and in my opinion there is no need to reduce ourselves to a certain style. The artistic development is the basic energy for the survival of an artist, and art as such. The press, fans and friends say that “Meredead” is “the most diverse, emotional and best-sounding production” by Leaves’ Eyes so far, moreover, “Leaves’ Eyes have created their own genre”. Believe me, this warms my heart! We never go with the commercial flow; we only go with the creative flow of the band! I prefer not to force Leaves’ Eyes into a specific already settled musical genre. I would rather say that Leaves’ Eyes’ music combines elements of gothic metal, classical music, folk music, with history and mythology.
True, Alexander, Thorsten and I are the songwriting and production team. Most of the time, music comes first, then vocal lines and words and then we work even more on the instruments until the three of us have a good feeling about it. Thorsten is our main composer, whereas words, concept and vocal lines are my area. Alexander is our producer meaning he’s the person in the band that gets only half of the sleep compared to Thorsten and myself. There is always a strict deadline, there a tons of different instruments in our music to take care of in the mix. Everything is recorded live in our studio except for the Lingua Mortis Orchestra from Minsk. Moreover, Alex is a perfectionist. I am really happy my husband didn’t suffer from a heart-attack yet – he’s incredible! Seeing that “Skintight” was such a departure from your band material, did it take you and the guys some time to switch gears and get into a Leaves’ Eyes groove for recording the new album? No, not at all. We compose and record in two different recording rooms. However, normally there is only one production going on at the time. Anyway, the mental “switch” is no problem at all. After all these years, doing everything by ourselves, there are enough reasons to call us professionals. I know very well that I’m surrounded by first-class musicians. You’ve also added some new members since “Njord”. How are their contributions adding to the core trio? The feeling within the band and between the band members has never ever been as positive, strong and inspiring as it is now since the latest line-up changes. That’s utterly important for the existence and the creativity of the band. I am so, so proud of my guys! It’s such a pleasure composing, recording and touring with them. We already knew Sander van der Meer and Roland Navratil for a long time before they joined the band. Sander replaced Matze on guitars, who quit because of family growth, whereas Roland replaced Chris Antonopoulus, who had different plans for his future. J.B. is our session player on bass, joining in after Alla Fedynitsch decided to pay more attention to her 9 to 5 job. After joining in, Sander and Roland were immediately members of the Leaves’ Eyes family. They travel from Holland and Austria to stay and work at Mastersound Studio as often as possible. We often hang out at my house after work, as I love cooking spicy Indian food and baking my special “Norwegian” cakes, moreover, sharing some bottles of wine.
“Meredead” integrates much more folk elements and melodies than previous albums. The pipes, fiddles, flutes – the more diverse instrumentation on “Meredead” really expands your musical palette.
For the production of “Meredead” it was highly important to us that each song had its own “face”, individuality and perfect, crystal clear sound to strengthen the emotional effect. We just let the music inspire us to add new and interesting “spices” to our music, like pipes, the nyckelharpa – a Swedish folk instrument – the fiddle, cello, classical orchestra or the flute. That’s what makes the album that diverse and exciting as you discover a different story, different instrumental combinations, different ways of singing even in various languages in each song. “Meredead” or “deadly sea” is the underlying theme of the album. How does that concept of death by water thread through the songs on the album? It’s an interesting contrast as water is also looked at as a giver of life.
The title is my own word-creation: To my grammatical knowledge, “Meredead” could mean ‘dead by the sea’, ‘or the deadly sea’. Poetically, we could add some imagination and lyrical sound and say “Sea of Death”. Secondly, the word “Meredead” sums up some of the themes rooted in my lyrics on the album. I grew up by the fjords, and I sense pure luck every time I return to my birth-place. Yes, you are so right, water is the giver of life. Again you find a whole palette of contrasts in our music, which has always been a feature for both Leaves’ Eyes and Theatre of Tragedy, my ex-band, that actually founded the “beauty and the beast” concept in metal back in 1995. Your lyrics generally look to the epic history of Norse literature and mythology for inspiration but on “Meredead” you’ve gravitated towards other cultures for inspiration. What was the genesis of that expanded outlook? I just let the music itself inspire me. If I chose a theme from Nordic mythology, I would include Norwegian lyrics. It was very intimate to sing in my mother tongue Norwegian, it makes the lyrics even more emotional and personal. Singing in Old-English meant digging my nose in my Old-English grammar books once again, however, I am very interested in historical languages, which I also studied. I think that Old-English has a very special “sound” phonetically. You’ll find Froeya, three-headed trolls, vampires, ghosts, witches, Vikings travelling on sea, Viking ladies mourning and of course many images from the Norwegian harsh weather and wild nature landscapes. I guess there is some homesickness towards Norway in my lyrics actually, it’s more than obvious that I miss my home country.
You’ve also expanding your use of language on “Meredead”. You obviously spend a long time working on your lyrics and the meaning and symbolism of the songs. Given your affinity for language are you taking the opportunity to experiment with phonetics to provide a different listening experience?
Yes, phonetics is a great help for me. I studied Old-English, Gothic, Middle-High German, phonetics, phonology, language acquisition, next to Modern English and Modern German at the university in Stavanger, Norway, and then following up at the University of Stuttgart, Germany. Sometimes I use lyrics existing only in the form of a phonetic string of sounds. Such a phonetic sequence has an important meaning: it conveys an emotional state provoked by that particular sound of my singing. My acoustic aim is not the words and a certain thematic content; it is the sound and the emotional effect of it in the listening experience.
What a wonderful idea! This would be fantastic! Let’s hope the universe hears this! I would love to do it. I have seen Elfenthal‘s “The Blue Elf’s Dream” and I am stunned. What an amazing show. Maite Itoiz and John Kelly are outstanding composers, musicians and performers. You’ve had much ongoing success in music appearing in two big bands – first Theatre of Tragedy and now Leaves’ Eyes. Does success with Leaves’ Eyes feel any different than what you achieved with Theatre of Tragedy? I always wanted to become a singer. Singing is a part of my nature. When I was little, I thought everybody was able to understand music and control their vocal chords. The fact that my parents were interested in music – listening to it – plays an important role: I grew up with Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Edvard Grieg and Tschaikowsky, and female singers like Enya, Madonna, Kate Bush, Abba, Tori Amos and Monserrat Caballe. From the very beginning, I’ve followed my musical instinct: I wanted to combine a romantic, female, angelic voice with powerful, impressive music. Then suddenly, when I was 18 years old, I found myself in the middle of writing music history with Theatre of Tragedy, being one of the founders of “gothic metal with female voices” and “the beauty and the beast concept”! I am first of all grateful to our fans and friends all over the world, who have been there for me throughout all these years! This feeling has remained the same – my gratefulness towards my fans. Being thrown out of Theatre of Tragedy was perhaps bad luck; however, sometimes bad luck leads to good luck. Today I have Leaves’ Eyes; it’s like having a family, next to my own family. For me two dreams have come true: I am a full-time singer, and I am a mother. How do you manage such a busy career as well as being a parent? Do you have any advice for women in the business that are hoping to have children one day and still pursue a music career? You need a good plan in your daily life, you need your own studio not far away from your home, moreover, a family who is there for you. My plan is strict however, and effective: when I work I am working my ass off; when my family is around and needs me, I am only there for my family, keeping our rituals. In between work and family I do a lot of sports, sauna and yoga, which is my way to recharge my battery if necessary. And then, from the business point of view, find the right people to support you, honest people. And speak out if you have an opinion. Money can be such an evil means to make you forget about your inner voice.
You’ve recently finished a tour with Midnattsol and Tarja. When do you hit the road again and where will your travels take you? We do have a few festivals this summer, then hopefully a North American and an Asian tour, including India. Your music is reaching more and more people internationally – you even toured India recently. How are you enjoying your progression towards becoming a truly global band? There is this special feeling that gives me the energy and the inspiration to travel the world – I get caught up in every moment that I am able to share with my audience. Every performance is one process of giving, and receiving, I call it “exchange of positive energy” between the band and the audience. I really have to say that we do have fantastic fans. I am looking so much forward to every gig, and to meet our fans after the show! (Famous) Last words?
Give a little bit love, and you’ll get it back. My mother taught me that. Thank you, mother.
Photos by Stefan Heilemann
Interview by Matteo Bussotti
Their musical style is indeed really unique. They take direct inspiration from the Victorian Age, creating songs which seems out of time, and that’ll bring you out of time for their atmospheres and their sound. I’m talking about A Forest of Stars, and I’ve interviewed their lead singer, Mr. Curse, to hear from him what’s the story of this band, and what will be its future after the release of their latest album, “A Shadowplay of Yesterdays”. The result…is something really worth reading. Welcome to A Forest of Stars‘s very strange and peculiar world.
So, Mr. Curse, welcome to Femme Metal! We are glad to have you here! The first question is: your latest album “A Shadowplay for Yesterdays” is nothing less than a complex album, starting from its name. How did you come up with the main idea behind this concept album?
The idea came together via initial conversations between The Gentleman and myself. These concerned the thought of madness; insanity. Also, the question of whether an individual is truly insane, or if the so-called madness is a product of their own imagination. There is also the question of whether or not it is the individual who is ‘mad’, or if it is in fact the world around them that has lost its grip upon reality. The name “A Shadowplay for Yesterdays” was intended overall to hint at the thought of a life flashing behind the eyes at the moment of death; the flickering thoughts, the shadowplay… I must also give a bid mention to our cohort The Projectionist, who’s extremely fine ideas and suggestions not only helped form the back-bone of “Gatherer of the Pure”, but to influence my lyric writing further throughout the record as a whole.
Were there any other ideas that you had to discard before coming up with “A Shadowplay”? Maybe something we will see in future releases?
We did in fact have a small pile of possible names, some of which may indeed be used in the future – whether as song titles, parts of lyrics or whatever should suit them at the time. They may of course end up discarded and left without purpose. There are many things I have written that have ended up this way.
Musically speaking, what are your main influences?
I cannot speak for the band at large; the influences are too many and varied. For myself, Darkthrone, Bathory, Burzum, Ved Buens Ende, Type O Negative, Beyond Dawn, Swans, Arcturus, Voivod, GGFH, Acid Bath, Sleep, Electric Wizard, Jethro Tull, Simon and Garfunkel, Steeleye Span, Skyclad, Devil Doll… the list is utterly endless. So much music has influenced me one way or the other, and I have an eclectic taste. I could go on and on and on and on and on…
And…historically speaking? Why did you get so fascinated by the Victorian Age?
It is all a part of our country’s rich heritage, and it seemed to fit the general demeanor of the band as a whole. You would have to ask my esteemed colleague The Gentlemen for a more succinct answer – though he has already answered this particular question in many prior interviews… In a nutshell, prosperity next to utter paucity; industrial triumph next to opiated squalor; religious fervor next to blasphemous alchemy. We enjoy the duality of it all. That, and the fact that so many parallels can be drawn between that time and the plastic-clad cathode ray gun farce that we call the present.
How are songs usually composed in A Forest of Stars? Who usually comes up with the ideas?
For the first two records, the majority of the music was written by our dear departed Mr. Kettleburner and The prolific Gentleman. Since TSK‘s passing over, we have recruited very talented new members to take up the mantle. Musically, “A Shadowplay for Yesterdays” was mostly written by The Gentleman and H. H. Bronsdon, one of our ‘new’ guitarists and musician / sound engineer extraordinaire. Significant additions were made by our other guitarist, Gtx. Grimshaw, and the rest of us all put our oars in one way or the other throughout…
Do you, Mr. Curse, usually write the lyrics, or do the other band members write something too, sometimes?
Up to this point I have written all the lyrics for our albums.
I really have to ask you this: who had the idea for your website? It is absolutely SPECTACULAR! I really loved it: the design, the style, the interactivity…everything! Congratulations on that!
That was a combined effort between The Gentleman and our wonderful colleague Lord Grum (www.grummedia.co.uk). It is indeed a site to behold, though once again, you would have to speak to The Gentleman to get the full story behind its creation. Suffice to say, it provides us with a most detailed and much tangled home amongst the spiders of the web.
What other themes would you like to explore in your next albums?
I wouldn’t honestly like to say for sure. Is ‘Anything and Everything’ a bad answer? I am most influenced by that which occurs around me at the time of writing – so even if I tried to say for sure what my lyrical influences would be for the next one, they would be liable to change without notice. Having said all this tripe, I am quite caught up in the crux of space and time. Also of gravity, the seasons, and heavy weather in general. These will always figure in my writing, as will my perceptions of the state of the so-called human condition.
What’s your relation with your fans, especially during your concerts? Do you tend to have an active relation, or do you tend not to interact too much with the crowd?
Again, I cannot speak for the rest of the band. Personally, I tend to stare intently out into space as I ‘perform’. It is the only way I can put myself in the correct place to be able to create the energy I require to get through it. I am not a great interactor, though I will always make the effort to speak to people after we leave the stage. It would be most ignorant and ungrateful of me not to!
Talking about the tour, where would you like to go? Is there special place or event you’d like to play at?
I have been very privileged to see some of Europa, and would certainly like to see more! I will go where ever the call takes me – I’m told I will even be going upon an aeroplane next year. I hope they’ve got some decent ‘relaxants’ for the journey… Not to be too evasive, but there are so many places I have not seen – I will not discount any, and will embrace each new place as a learning experience and something new. Having said this, I felt very at home in Frankfurt, Germany, and am very much looking forward to our little band playing Roadburn next year.
This is your third album…can you tell us, in your opinion, in which direction A Forest of Stars have evolved from the beginning until now?
In all honesty, I would say that we have done just that – evolved. Things have moved forward for us with each release simply because we do not wish to repeat ourselves or to bore ourselves with the music we put together. We are comfortable with our myriad influences, and so far have managed (I hope!) to incorporate them into our music without coming across as too much of a melting pot of horrors bound together with shit!
Now…spend some words to describe the other members of the band! You can be as serious/creative/funny/rude as you want!
At the risk of sounding like a trite so and so, I see the other members of the band as an extended family. We all look after one another and ensure that we get from one place to another in one piece (or in as few pieces as possible!) I would describe them as true friends and allies; I would not change them for the world – though I would add one to their number if I could – my attempts to resurrect Kettleburner in daemon form and to shoe-horn him back into the band have so far proven unsuccessful, though I have a few more dubious fine powders up my sleeve to try…)
Thank you very much for your answer! We hope to see you soon in Italy!
Thank you for your questions, Matteo.
Label : Pias Recording
Review by Alessandro Narcissus
Dead Can Dance. Does Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry’s iconic musical creature really need an introduction? Well, perhaps it does, as many of the people who may love their music or any of the genres that originated from their wake were barely kids or not even born during the heyday of one of the most established and respected acts of the Ethereal scene. Dead Can Dance were formed by partners Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry in Melbourne, Australia, in 1981. Soon they moved to London, when they got signed by an alternative label and released an EP and their debut full length to great critical acclaim. In the following two decades, not only did Dead Can Dance become a legend in the Ethereal scene releasing a total of seven full-lengths which are nowadays widely regarded as classics, one studio EP, an official live album, an incalculable amount of b-sided and live-only tracks, achieving fame both in Europe and in the Unites States and having several songs featured in movie soundtracks, but they also indirectly contributed to the birth of the Gothic Metal genre itself through the early work of The Gathering, who openly cited them among their greatest influences. Now, after a brief reunion tour in 2005 and the release of five live EPs as an appetiser in the past months, Gerrard and Perry finally felt ready to get back to writing together new music for Dead Can Dance, and subsequently released their come-back full length, “Anastasis” – which fittingly means “rebirth” – after sixteen years from their previous studio album. Now, let’s get it clear from the beginning: you can put perfection into music, but putting it into words in a review is a much tougher work. No review will ever live up to the true artistic value of “Anastasis”, as this album is nothing short of the high standards of any past Dead Can Dance “classic” release. It’s a highly inspired and emotional album, a collection of eight diverse and outstanding tracks that make up an incredible experience when listened together as a whole. Generally speaking, the album is incredibly sophisticated, even if compared to the band’s past recordings. It remains true and coherent to their past and priceless heritage drawing widely from it, but is a contemporary work which gives room to the artistic maturity Gerrard and Perry achieved while working separately. Balance is the keyword of this recording: nothing is overdone and every single note of each instrument is put in the right place for the right reason, to provide an experience that will delight both the artistic and sensitive side of the listener. Indeed, what immediately catches the ear is the sense of general harmony and unity of the record, in which each track has its own individuality but, at the same time, works perfectly as a piece of a greater experience. The orchestra – a typically western element – may be identified as the guiding thread of the oriental-sounding album. There are more orchestral parts than in the past and they are used differently in that the ensemble plays an active role in the most exotic soundscapes: instead of only providing a lush background for the ethnic instruments, it often accompanies them and plays along on the oriental or tribal melodies. Ideally, this interpretation of southern and eastern sounds with typical western instruments epitomises the idea of mingling different cultural influences into something new, which has always been the main standpoint of Dead Can Dance and is done at its finest in this album. This sense of harmony is also given by the balance between the two composers’ efforts. Even in this, “Anastasis” sounds much more cohesive than most the past Dead Can Dance albums, in particular those released after Gerrard and Perry’s domestic break up – namely “Into The Labyrinth” (1993), “Spiritchaser” (1996), and most notably their live effort “Towards The Within” (1994), in which their stylistic differences were most evident and at times even clashing. Whilst Gerrard’s and Perry’s own, peculiar approaches to writing music for their creature is still recognizable and the most familiar listeners can guess from the first notes of each song who’s going to sing, the passage from Perry’s trademark art-rock songwriting and Gerrard’s ethnic fascinations is much smoother than in the past, enhancing the sense of cohesion and harmony of the record as a whole. Indeed, the soundscapes evoked by the album can be perceived as the narration of a conceptual journey throughout the Mediterranean basin: the listener gets to ideally meet different cultures within the same voyage, each one adding it’s peculiar flavour to a bigger, all-compassing experience which is – or, if you will, being a piece of one, big colourful mosaic. The orchestra is the narrator who filters the experiences, and the other instruments and styles are the characters met during the journey we’re told about. In this sense, the title “Anastasis” does not only refer to the band’s rebirth after a 16-year split, but also to a more spiritual kind of rebirth the listener would experience through an enriching journey in the cradle of our culture. It’s really hard to name some highlights from the album without ending up with a detailed and exhaustive track-by-track review, as each song is spectacular in its way. But how not to mention, for instance, “Amnesia”, chosen as the promotional single out the album, which perfectly represents the blending of exotic rhythms with Perry’s typically western songwriting? Or Gerrard’s remarkable performance in the most ethnic tracks such as “Anabasis”, “Agape” or “Kiko”, which showcase the aforementioned union of traditional instruments and tribal percussions with the orchestra, as a background for Gerrard’s trademark vocalizations and folkloric techniques? “Children of the Sun” and “All In Good Time” represent the perfect opening and closing tracks respectively, the former being some kind of “rite of passage” somehow reminiscent of past songs (in particular Perry’s from “Aion”) reworked in the current, mature style of the duo, and the latter providing a relaxing outro as remarkable as “How Fortunate the Man With None” from “Into the Labyrinth”. And finally, the two absolute masterpieces of the album, “Opium” and “Return of the She-King”. The first is a highly emotional blend of ethnic rhythm patterns with breath-taking string melodies and Perry’s melancholic lyrics and vocals bound to put a tear in many listener’s eyes; the second is a wonderful, solemn track with distinct influences from the British Isles – at times it almost sounds as if a traditional Irish melody were played by Scottish bagpipes – in which Gerrard’s glossolalia vocals unite with Perry’s in what can be considered as the two vocalist’s best duet ever. “Anastasis” is clearly not just a typical come-back album that is made just to exploit the fans’ nostalgia or the hype for an iconic band’s reunion. It clearly shows Gerrard and Perry’s need to go back to their roots and write music together, and to do so at the right time and without a hurry, resulting in a fresh and genuine work, not at all anachronistic. It’s a perfect introduction for the new generations to the priceless work of this duo, as well as the perfect reward fans could hope for after 16 years of silence. “All in Good Time”, they say, and this is undoubtfully the good time and best way for Dead Can Dance to come back.
Rating – 100/100
- Children of the Sun
- Return of the She-King
- All in Good Time
- Lisa Gerrard
- Brendan Perry
Style switcher only on this demo version. Theme styles can be changed from Options page.
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